Street food

Colourful and diverse, street food is one of those travel experiences one can find in cities and towns all around the world. It's generally convenient and cheap, but its appeal goes far beyond that. Street food can be simple yet utterly delicious, and it's often a great way to sample some authentic local cuisine. Joining locals around bustling little street stalls can open doors and lead to memorable encounters. In some countries, whether you're a typical foodie or not, you may find that your search for great street food turned out to be among the best experiences of your trip.

Understand

While available pretty much anywhere, street food is most commonly associated with hot climates in general and Asian countries in particular.

This type of food is sold in urban environments and in some parts of the world along highways — in other words, places where people are moving. Markets are a good place to find a range of vendors selling street food, especially in warmer countries. There you can often go from stall to stall sampling hundreds of different kinds of food - spicy, sweet, salty, hot and cold and a range of drinks.

In colder parts of the world street food is less common, usually in a form of single food trucks, carts or kiosks where you can often choose only among variants of the same dish, e.g. hot dogs and sausages with different toppings. There, street food is almost always designed to be eaten by hand and there are seldom designated seats and tables like the ones you would find e.g. in a Singapore hawker's centre. On the other hand, at market-like events there is usually more to choose from, especially if the event is centered around food!

Eat

Street food is often not limited to just one country or region: for example, hamburgers can be found almost everywhere in the world. That does not mean that they are the same everywhere, though: street food dishes often come with a local twist. The listed foods are generally only a small sampling of what is available on the street in each place. Foods are listed according to the country or region of origin - often they can be found in the surrounding regions too.

Africa

Eastern Africa

Food stand in Zanzibar

Northern Africa

Sfenj

Southern Africa

Western Africa

Kelewele vendor

Asia

China

Baozi and jiaozi being prepared

Malaysia-Indonesia

Street dining in Jakarta
Laksa Sarawak
A hawker centre in Kuala Lumpur
Otak-otak

Middle East

Shawarma in a pita bread
Jerusalem mixed grill

Northeast Asia

Takoyaki shop in Tokyo

In Japan, eating on the street is normally outside the bounds of etiquette. The tremendous food courts in the basements of department stores are excellent places to get snacks, but you are expected to either eat them there or at home, not on the street. Perhaps surprisingly, 7-Eleven stores also sell good snacks in Japan, if you don't need anything fancy.

Night scene at Namdaemun market, Seoul

Northern Indochina

Mohinga street hawker
Bugs, anyone?
Street food in Ho Chi Minh City

Philippines

South Asia

Aloo Chaat
Appam
Aloo chaat (potatoes with chutney) vendor in New Delhi

Turkey

Kebab in Adana

Europe

Benelux and the British Isles

A friterie kiosk in Brussels
Kapsalon, quite high in calories

The Dutch have adopted several types of foreign street foods as their own, and Vietnamese spring rolls, Döner kebab and falafel are available from small stalls in most cities.

Central Europe

Bosna
Fast food stand in Berlin

Former Soviet Union

Roadside pirozhki vendors on the St. Petersburg-Moscow highway

Mediterranean Europe

Crêpe with caramel and nuts
Pizza al taglio - pizza by the slice
Paella

Southeastern Europe

Scandinavia

Paistettuja muikkuja

Street food and fast food are overlapping concepts in Finland. The best place to find Finnish street food would be at "grill" kiosks that you usually find in both in bigger cities and smaller towns. Their menus usually include different versions of hotdogs, meat pies, hamburgers, chopped sausage with fries (makkaraperunat), the porilainen and such. In the summer, market squares in mid-sized and small cities usually have a market day every week or even more often where you can have some fried sausages, fried vendace and sometimes Middle Eastern and Asian street food. Four days a year an event called the Restaurant day takes place. For one day, anyone is allowed to open a pop-up restaurant without the otherwise strict restrictions to open a restaurant which in practice means a lot of small street food tables popping up in city parks.

North America

In some cases the boundary between street food and fast food in North America is fluid.

Canada

Poutine

Caribbean

Alcapurria

Central America

Making pupusas

Mexico

Taco stands
Tamale

United States

On Manhattan, hot dogs and pretzels aren't hard to find

Oceania

A pie floater

South America

Andean countries

Salchipapas

Brazil

Acarajé vendor

Northern South America

Almojábana

Temperate South America

Choripán

Drink

Kvas stall at a fair, Belgorod

Street food is often eaten in warm climates, hence cooled soft drinks, water, fruit juice or beer are the most common beverages to drink together with this kind of food. Some drinks can also be considered street foods in themselves, for example Kvas, a fermented beverage with low alcohol content sold from stalls in Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. Warm beverages such as coffee or tea are common with pastries or when it is cold outside. In Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States, a highlight of Christmas markets are the stalls selling Glühwein (mulled wine) to warm you up.

Stay healthy

Understand that street food vendors do not necessarily have the same standard of hygiene as sit-down restaurants and cafés. Food that has been handled carelessly can carry bacteria, Hepatitis virus and other things that can upset your stomach and possibly even develop into something worse. You should be careful with food that has been sitting around for a long time. It is best if your food is prepared after you've ordered it and served hot. Generally speaking stalls with a high number of customers in a given time are more likely to serve fresh produce and less likely to have the food lying around too long.

Respect

It's a good idea to look at how other people eat; otherwise, the food might end up everywhere but in your mouth and/or you will make a spectacle of yourself. The latter would include eating with chopsticks with absolutely no prior experience, eating with your hands when nobody else does or eating with your left hand in Muslim countries where it is considered dirty.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, August 28, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.